It's a shame not nearly as many readers will see, in the Altantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates' eloquent elaboration on his crude jab at President Obama in the mammothly circulated NY Times; last Sunday's piece in which he accused Obama of "going to the dark side, by walking the G.O.P.’s talk, by becoming the man Dick Cheney fashioned himself to be."
Here, from "Fear of a Black President," is that indispensable elaboration:
I am, like many liberals, horrified by Obama’s embrace of a secretive drone policy, and particularly the killing of American citizens without any restraints. A president aware of black America’s tenuous hold on citizenship, of how the government has at times secretly conspired against its advancement—a black president with a broad sense of the world—should know better. Except a black president with Obama’s past is the perfect target for right-wing attacks depicting him as weak on terrorism. The president’s inability to speak candidly on race cannot be bracketed off from his inability to speak candidly on everything. Race is not simply a portion of the Obama story. It is the lens through which many Americans view all his politics.
With that, I apologize for my earlier harshness toward Coates. Perhaps he had this coming Atlantic piece in mind when he so abruptly, nakedly dropped that gratuitous dime on Obama.
I very much recommend Coates' Atlantic piece. "Fear of a Black President" breaks no new analytical ground from a socio- or politico-historical angle, but it's the best summation of race and politics in contemporary America I've yet read. Really, you should read it.
I do wish to add just a few words about his powerful concluding paragraph:
I think back to the first time I wrote Shirley Sherrod, requesting an interview. Here was a black woman with every reason in the world to bear considerable animosity toward Barack Obama. But she agreed to meet me only with great trepidation. She said she didn’t "want to do anything to hurt" the president.
I'm not black. I'm English, German, Irish, native American and, according to family lore, a bit of some ravishing, flamencoing Cuban whom a white male adventurer once "passed in the (Caribbean) night," as they say. Who knows. Who cares. But I do know this: Much as many among my preceding and very white generation once protected their Franklin Delano Roosevelt like real mama grizzlies, times ten, I find myself similarly inclined toward Barack Obama. In the heavy midst of trying to pull this nation together, after the unspeakable beating it had taken at the hands of imperious moneygrubbers and indifferent politicians, FDR suffered not only from the right's continuing barbarity, but from the soaring self-righteousness of some on the left. I chose--and I've been pretty successful at it, I think--to forego those easiest of cheap shots: President Obama doesn't do enough of this; he does too much of that; he's a bought-and-paid-for tool of Wall Street; he's an uncontrollable warmonger, just like Bush (or Cheney) ... you know the routine. For heaven's sake, what Obama inherited was about as wretched as what Roosevelt got--plus two wars--so could we please cut the man some slack?
Or, as Shirley Sherrod put it, I don't want to do anything to hurt the president. He just plain doesn't deserve it.